“It is always important to know when something has reached its end. Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn’t matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over.” ~ Paulo Coelho
Why do so many of us hold on to experiences, relationships and circumstances that no longer serve us? What keeps us in situations that aren’t fulfilling even when we know it’s time to cut the cord? Often times it’s fear, or guilt, or some other perception of the situation that keeps us from making a break. But we have to trust our gut and know when something is over. When the unprofessionalism and disrespect reached a critical level at a part time gig, I knew it was time to go.
I’d been working on occasion with an event company to make extra money. I’d help set up and break down, and at some point I became the talent “wrangler”. During the event, a fancy gala, I was the the person who helped the emcee and other speakers hit their mark on the stage and stay on point in the script. These events require long days. Once I worked 17 hours straight and by the end of the night my arms and legs felt like Barbie limbs that could just snap off and fall to the floor. Though it was rough, it was a great way to earn extra income and network with top tier professionals. But after nearly a year, I realized I just didn’t dig it anymore. I didn’t like how I was starting to be treated.
I was the latest addition to a tight-knit group, and it was very evident I was the odd girl out. There was a palpable distance between me and the team who, due to working together for so long, had a definite lay of the land in terms of procedure that wasn’t always shared with me. I could handle that, but it got to a point where I wasn’t receiving critical information.
The beginning of the end of my time with the company was when I showed up to an event space at 8 a.m. and no one else was there. I was later told we weren’t expected until 10 a.m. This was apparently relayed in an email to everyone but me. That wasn’t the first time communication hadn’t been effectively dispersed. My next gig with this company, which I decided would be my last, had all the signals that it was time to bid this bullsh*t adieu.
The owner of the company asked me to be available for a particular weekend, so I took off from another job. Then, she emailed me and cancelled, causing me to miss out on making money at my other gig. Um…no… I immediately called and gently reminded her that she requested my time, which communicated a commitment. She offered some explanation I cared nothing about. All I could hear was Rihanna’s “B*tch Better Have My Money” playing in the background of my mind.
But I kept it cool, and she told me she’d get back to me in the morning to let me know what she worked out. She didn’t. Sooo… I texted her. No response. I took some deep breaths and tabled it until the next morning when I called again. She didn’t pick up but texted me to be at the venue the next day. Yeah, that’s when I decided my time with her was over. She was unprofessional, inconsiderate and dismissive of my needs. The night of the event only confirmed my decision.
Disaster struck that evening just as guests began arriving for cocktail hour when I was alerted that I was going to be the “wrangler” again. I had been there all afternoon with no mention of it. I didn’t even have a script!
I had to get a script printed out while I being whisked away to meet the emcee! Umm… “wrangler” preparation takes a long time. I need to read the script and make my notes so I know when to prompt the speakers. And… I need to know who the speakers ARE! So, imagine me flipping through the script for the first time, and running around, with no assistance, interrupting key attendees during cocktail hour to ask if they can help me identify other key people while they’re trying to schmooze, drink and eat crab cakes! Absolute insanity.
The entire night I struggled to stay on top of my marks and get people to the stage on time. I hated feeling unprepared. And I’d felt that way too many times before. I plastered a smile on my face but really wanted to fling my clipboard across the ballroom and go home. I don’t like feeling like I’ve been set up to fail. It was time to BE. OUT.
The stress of being in a chaotic system with a leader who doesn’t communicate effectively among a group of people who frequently left me feeling unsupported wasn’t worth it. People say life is short. I believe life is long, but too short for bullsh*t. I was grateful for the opportunity, but it was time to do a Regine and say “smooches” to a situation that was becoming unnecessarily absurd. I didn’t want that in my life. I wanted to feel respected and valued as a team member. I wasn’t getting that and knew nothing would change, so I quit.
There wasn’t a good moment that night to tell the owner I was leaving, so I sent her a gracious text a few days later. Her response felt as if she didn’t even care, which only confirmed I made the right decision. I felt relieved.
Check your gut and trust it! Know you have the right to move on from something that doesn’t feel good. Whatever it is–a job, relationship, organization or even your church – if it’s not working for you anymore, and you know you can’t change the environment or systems, it’s ok to leave. Too many people waste too much time staying in situations that are no longer adding value and depleting them of joy and fulfillment.
Know when a situation just isn’t making sense anymore. Know your boundaries. Know your worth. Know when it’s over. And as the beloved actress, Bern Nadette Stanis of Good Times, once said, “there’s always more”.
When you leave a situation with integrity, there’s always another opportunity. It might look different, and it might be hard to get, but there’s always more. So go find a situation that will value who you are and what you have to offer. Don’t be afraid to walk away.